Pope Francis would like to see more nativity scenes on display in homes and public places. In an apostolic letter December 1 he said:
The enchanting image of the Christmas crèche, so dear to the Christian people, never ceases to arouse amazement and wonder. The depiction of Jesus’ birth is itself a simple and joyful proclamation of the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God.
The nativity scene is like a living Gospel rising up from the pages of sacred Scripture. As we contemplate the Christmas story, we are invited to set out on a spiritual journey, drawn by the humility of the God who became man in order to encounter every man and woman. We come to realize that so great is his love for us that he became one of us, so that we in turn might become one with him.
With this letter, I wish to encourage the beautiful family tradition of preparing the Nativity scene in the days before Christmas, but also the custom of setting it up in the workplace, in schools, hospitals, prisons and town squares.
The B.C. Catholic asked its readers to send photos of local nativity scenes; here is the link.
And here are a couple of high-profile local examples that are worth a visit:
The Dundarave Festival takes place every Christmas season in West Vancouver, featuring four Saturday concerts, the ‘Forest of Miracles’ (decorated Christmas trees along the beach) and a number of other elements.
A nativity scene is a steady presence at the fair; here’s how it is described on the festival’s website:
The Dundarave Nativity is the labour of love of two master carvers, a tender witness to hope fulfilled and a joy that defies description.
Carved of ancient red cedar and displayed on Dundarave Beach for generations, these figures tell the story of the first Christmas. The figures show the faces of all races.
This speaks to the power of this moment, the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, that a child would be born of a virgin mother and he would be called the ‘Wonderful Counsellor,’ ‘Mighty God,’ ‘Everlasting Father,’ ‘Prince of Peace.’ Isaiah 9:7) . . .
The renowned Frank Carius carved the original setting – the Madonna and Child, Joseph, one king, a shepherd, a lamb and the archangel – and finished them with oil. . . .
Curated by the Dundarave Festival, Master Carver Bill Seminoff restored the original carvings, stripping off layers of lead paint and bringing them back to life. In 2012, Seminoff completed the setting with Caspar, who presents to the infant a gift of myrrh. . . .
The carvings have been blessed by the Elders of the Squamish Nation, because they are a labour of love that speaks to an inexhaustible grace.
Go here for the full text.
The Dundarave Nativity can be found at the bottom of 25th Street at Dundarave Beach Park; it will be available for viewing until just after Epiphany.
Many older people will remember seeing a nativity scene or crèche, in the windows of the old Woodward’s Store on Hastings. That same crèche is now on display at Christ Church Cathedral.
Randy Murray wrote about it on the Anglican diocesan website earlier this month:
The beautiful olive wood three-quarter scale crèche figures, hand-carved, hand-painted and gilded in Italy were a highlight of the famed Vancouver Woodward’s Department Store Christmas windows from 1955 until the early 1990s.
Many of the Woodward’s displays featured moving figures with accompanying soundtrack and lighting, but this striking nativity scene was always the centerpiece of the seasonal display.
In 1993, the Hudson’s Bay Company acquired the assets of Woodward’s. Many of the Woodward’s display window pieces were moved to Canada Place to be enjoyed by new generations of Vancouverites at Christmas time. However, the Bay continued the Woodward’s tradition by displaying the nativity scene inside the Seymour Street entrance of the downtown store during Advent and Christmas.
Go here for the full story.
Since 2013 the nativity scene has been on loan to Christ Church during the Christmas season. It can be viewed 10 am – 4 pm on weekdays, and before and after Sunday liturgies.
Simbang Gabi gaining popularity
A Filipino Christmas tradition is becoming more popular each year in Vancouver, including in some non-Filipino churches.
The B.C. Catholic explained what it’s all about:
Simbang Gabi was celebrated in 27 parishes last year, and Archbishop Michael Miller has expressed hopes to see even more this year. . . .
Simbang Gabi (“night Mass” in Tagalog), is a Christmas novena that originated in the Philippines in the 17th century. It involves a celebration of the Eucharist in the early morning hours for nine consecutive days before December 25. . . .
“The people like to carry that custom with them,” said Father Joseph Nguyen of St. Andrew’s Parish in Vancouver. Father Nguyen is one of about nine non-Filipino priests who celebrate Simbang Gabi, during which priests wear white vestments for Mass, instead of the purple ones usually worn during Advent.
Father Nguyen describes it as a spiritual preparation for Christmas. “I think it is beautiful. You have Mass at 6 in the morning for nine days. After Mass, we have breakfast together and people can go to work.”
Go here for the full article.
In God I Trust
A movie called In God I Trust and which was banned from a film festival in Beijing sounds like it might be worth seeing.
An article in the Vancouver Courier described why it is not welcome in China:
Maja Jacob was understandably giddy when her feature film directorial debut In God I Trust was invited to screen at the venerable Beijing International Film Festival earlier this year.
In God I Trust was filmed on weekends over the course of a year and fuelled by volunteers and passion and chutzpah. For a Vancouver indie film to be invited to screen in Beijing – where the festival treats visiting filmmakers like rock stars, and the movies screen to sold-out crowds – was a big deal.
It’s arguably an even bigger deal to be disinvited because of political strife between two global superpowers – which is precisely what happened to Jacob and In God I Trust in March.
Go here for the full story.
Anyone who would like to learn more – and see the film – can do so at the Rio Theatre next Thursday (December 19); Maja Jacob will be there for a Q&A session after the showing.
Here is a description of In God I Trust, from the Rio’s website:
Inspired by true events, the film follows three characters and three story lines that all come together during a random encounter in a small Northern Idaho town. The film wastes no time testing the lines between anger, redemption and revenge in today’s politically divided and socially tribal environment.
What really makes these true- to-life characters tick is highlighted by suspense that keeps the audience guessing from the opening credits. Redemption, violence and faith define a young black man, a reckless white nationalist, and a pair of traveling vacationers during a random encounter within northern Idaho.
December 11, 2019Virtual Book Launch with N.T. Wright & Michael F. Bird – December 11, 2019 at 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm
Winter Harp – December 11, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 12, 2019ACMV Christmas Gathering & Dickens Dinner – December 12, 2019 at 11:00 am - 1:30 pm
Winter Harp – December 12, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 13, 2019Christmas Concert: The Arrival (several events) – December 13, 2019 - December 16, 2019 at All Day
Night of Wonder Christmas Concert (five shows) – December 13, 2019 - December 15, 2019 at All Day
Singing Christmas Tree: Illuminate (10 performances) – December 13, 2019 - December 15, 2019 at All Day
ACTS Seminaries Christmas Tea Open House – December 13, 2019 at 9:30 am - 11:00 am
musica intima: Sing Lullaby – December 13, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Good Tidings! a Good Noise Gospel Christmas – December 13, 2019 - December 14, 2019 at 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
December 14, 2019A Thrill of Hope, by Coastal Church (three events) – December 14, 2019 - December 15, 2019 at All Day
Memorial Service for Miranda Harris – December 14, 2019 at 10:00 am - 11:30 am
Christmas and Missions – December 14, 2019 at 12:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Alzheimer Café – December 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
Annual Christmas Social & Silent Auction – December 14, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Good Tidings! a Good Noise Gospel Christmas – December 14, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
North Shore Community Christmas Dinner – December 14, 2019 at 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm
A Phoenix Christmas – December 14, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Anamnesis: Sam Rocha Album Release Concert – December 14, 2019 at 8:30 pm - 11:30 pm
December 15, 2019musica intima: Sing Lullaby – December 15, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Winter Harp – December 15, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Community Carol Sing – December 15, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Traditional Christmas Carols with Organ – December 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 7:45 pm
Winter Harp – December 15, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
December 17, 2019Bethlehem Walk – December 17, 2019 - December 18, 2019 at 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Christmas Tales – December 17, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
musica intima: Sing Lullaby – December 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
VSO Brass Quintet: Brass & Organ Concert – December 17, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 18, 2019Christmas Tales – December 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Winter Harp – December 18, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 19, 201950 Years of Sole: a History of Fluevog – December 19, 2019 - December 24, 2019 at All Day
A Christmas Carol, adopted by Ron Reed – December 19, 2019 - December 21, 2019 at All Day
Ben Nelson: Noonshine – December 19, 2019 - December 20, 2019 at All Day
DivorceCare (ongoing, several locations) – December 19, 2019 at All Day
Christmas Tales – December 19, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
December 20, 2019Timberline Country Christmas – December 20, 2019 - December 22, 2019 at All Day
Festival of Lessons and Carols – December 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Mission to Seafarers Christmas Carol Service – December 20, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
musica intima: Sing Lullaby – December 20, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Vancouver Chamber Choir: a Rose in the Middle of Winter – December 20, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 21, 2019Christmas Presence – December 21, 2019 - December 23, 2019 at All Day
15th Annual Vigil for the Silenced: for a Just Advent – December 21, 2019 at 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Messiah Sing Along – December 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Vancouver Cantata Singers: Christmas Reprise XVII – December 21, 2019 at 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Christmas Tales – December 21, 2019 at 2:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Christmas Pipe Organ Concert with Audience Singing – December 21, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
musica intima: Sing Lullaby – December 21, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
Vancouver Cantata Singers: Christmas Reprise XVII – December 21, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 22, 2019Christmas with Chor Leoni – December 22, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Early Music Vancouver: Festive Cantatas – Christmas in Gabrieli's Venice – December 22, 2019 at 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Taizé Contemplative Service – December 22, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Fleetwood Gospel Hall Community Dinner – December 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Contemporary Christmas Worship with Carols – December 22, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – December 22, 2019 at 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
December 24, 2019Jesus' Birthday Party for children – December 24, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – December 24, 2019 at 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
December 29, 2019DTES Churches Joint Gathering – December 29, 2019 at 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Jazz Vespers @ St. Andrew's United Church on the North Shore – December 29, 2019 at 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm